Spring Pea & Tarragon Risotto with Shrimp

Spring Pea & Tarragon Risotto with Shrimp

I was about halfway through writing about mushroom-barley soup when it hit me: I am so, so ready for spring produce.  Suddenly the thought another brown meal seemed so unappealing.  All I could think about is how excited I am to have peppery greens from my garden, fresh herbs at my fingertips, asparagus, and peas.

But it’s not even March yet.  My garden is covered in a sad heap of snow, it’s still frigidly cold, and I’m at the point where I just can’t eat another root vegetable and I’m so over stew.  

Even though we’ve got a long way to go, I want to forget the sad reality that is late winter eating (at least for a night) and flash forward to vibrant spring flavors.  We’ll improvise with a bag of frozen peas and transform them into a beautiful green pea risotto.  We’ll jazz it up with fresh tarragon and top it with a few lemony sautéed shrimp.  It’ll be light, playful, fresh.  Hopeful, even.  I think we’re all ready for that.

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Caramelized Onion, Mushroom & Barley Soup

Caramelized-Onion,-Barley-&-Mushroom-SoupI’m struggling to come up with something to write about this soup.  What can I say about its warming, comfort food qualities that I haven’t said about most of the dishes I’ve shared here in the past 6 months?

Arg.  What I actually want to say is that it’s still very much in the thick of winter and I’m hitting that wall where I cannot, cannot, cannot tolerate another cold day or another snowstorm.  I’m feeling dull, gloomy, and uninspired.

But I won’t let us wallow in our late winter depression, instead we can wallow in a(nother) great big pot of soup.  And despite my rather sad sounding introduction, this soup is really good!  It’s hearty, the kind of soup that’s a whole meal in a bowl.  It’s full of caramelized onions with lots of barley and chunky slices of mushroom.  The brothy caramelized onions are reminiscent of my beloved French onion soup, but the lack of cheese croutons makes me believe eating it will help me feel better about myself once I do finally emerge from my 3 layers of bulky sweaters and long underwear.  Which is going to happen some day soon, right?  

Just.  Say.  Right.

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Date, Walnut & Gouda Scones

Date,-Walnut-&-Gouda-SconesWhat started with a simple cheese plate has led to so much more.

One night, a few weeks ago, I got off work late and decided to treat myself to a cheese plate.  I stopped by the store on my way home and picked up a little wedge of raw milk gouda, a few juicy Medjool dates, and some walnuts.  A glass of wine and a movie later, my wheels were turning, thinking of other things I do with this delicious combination of ingredients.  I made a batch of date-walnut bars (good, but the crust was a little too crumbly to share with y’all), a really good stuffed pork tenderloin, and, finally, these scones.  It’s been a good ride.

These scones were the star of a leisurely breakfast last weekend.  They’re a great blend of savory and sweet, buttery layers spotted with big chunks of date, toasted walnuts, and sharp cheese.  Paired with hot coffee, pjs, and good company, is there really nothing more I could ask for on a Sunday morning?  Nope.

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Creamy Duck Fat Roasted Potatoes

Creamy-Duck-Fat-Roasted-PotatoesI don’t want to brag and I don’t like throwing the word “perfect” around too much, especially when I’m talking about my own work, so let’s just call these Sarah’s “really, really good” roasted potatoes.  

But you know what I’m thinking.

(They’re the best!  Perfect!  Spectacular!  To-die-for!  Amazing!  Life-changing!)

This is my favorite way to roast potatoes and if it isn’t yours already, it might be very soon.

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Pancetta-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with Date Jam

Pancetta-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with Date JamIf you’ve ever found yourself at a party, standing over the buffet, shoveling bacon-wrapped dates into your mouth as quickly as you can instead of, you know, being social and whatnot, this recipe is for you.  Well, you and me.  Seriously, who cares about meeting and greeting when there’s something as good as porky dates to be had?

This recipe takes the flavors of one of our most beloved cocktail snacks and turns it into an entree.  I made a sweet and savory jam with dates, onion, and mustard seed, smeared it on a butterflied pork tenderloin and wrapped it all up with strips of pancetta.  After roasting, the meat is moist and just a touch rosy in the center, with crisp pancetta serving as the perfect counterpoint to the sweet date filling.  It’s just like my favorite party snack but in a meal-sized portion I can enjoy without looking over my shoulder, wondering if I’m going to have to fight someone over the last date.

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